Friday, July 11, 2008

tea for two

Last night, after closing shop for the day Tracy & I headed to the Philadelphia Style Magazine Best of 2008 party. Though we didn't win any awards for this one, we were excited to attend the "Old Hollywood" themed extravaganza. We taxied our gussied up selves over to The Crystal Tea Room located in the Wanamaker Building. I have been dying to check out this locale for many, many years.
Here's a little history...I used to be a shopgirl at Wanamaker's in my early college years. Ladies Hosiery, Misses, Juniors, Linens-I got shuffled around a lot. Unfortunately, it was not at the Center City location. I grew up going into Center City with my mother and shopping in the big department stores-especially during the holidays. The grandeur of the architecture, the window displays and the hustle & bustle were pretty captivating. All of the big department stores in Philadelphia are now defunct except for Wanamaker's, which is (sadly) now a Macy's. But at least it's still open.

Wanamaker's was the first department store in Philadelphia and one of the first department stores in the United States. It is located in the center of town at 15th & Market right across the street from City Hall. The Crystal Tea Room restaurant on the 9th floor operated up until 1995 and then was closed to the public. It has been restored and currently operating as a private banquet hall. A Wanamaker's guidebook from the 1920s states that the Crystal Tea Room was the largest dining room in Philadelphia, and one of the largest in the world. It once could serve 1400 people at a time. It served breakfast in the morning, luncheon, and afternoon tea. Before you enter the Tea Room you can overlook the Grand Hall of the department store from the balconies. From here you have a great view of the Wanamaker Organ. The organ is the largest operational pipe organ in the world. It is played twice a day, Monday through Saturday, and more frequently around Christmas. It was being played as we left the party for the night. Beautiful!

The party was well attended. Lots of fancy dress, a great band, free flowing booze EVERYWHERE, and food tables in all directions from some of Philadelphia best restaurants. We nibbled, sipped, rested our feet, ran into Kinky Jen from Valanni and then made our exit. Short & sweet. Afterwards, we headed to Northern Liberties to check out the soft opening of Cantina Dos Segundos-a new margarita bar that is actually opening tonight in our 'hood. Fun times!

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